Display your art at Better

Looking for a place that will display your art? If you don’t have galleries beating down your door, its pretty tough. But Better might just be the place for you.

Better is a cowork space that hosts regular events. We are centrally located in Saxonwold in Johannesburg in an old house with a large garden. We have wall space, a flow of people, and parking; you have art. Let’s talk.

We offer three-month contracts to display up to three pieces of work. You get to advertise your price and contact details next to each work. We will also display your bio and business card and make them available to anyone interested in your art. If we make a direct sale, we get 15% commission. You will need to pay for packaging and shipping (if necessary) and insurance (if you want it).

Better is not a gallery, so we can’t promise gallery-like conditions. We do have white walls and reasonable lighting. It’s better in some places than in others. We will choose where to hang the works and try to be fair to everyone. So you may get one piece in a prime position and another in a less ideal position.

We are happy to display a wide range of genres, but we do want to see the work first. Better is a cowork environment and the vibe is light and happy so nothing too dark, violent or otherwise disturbing to the people who work here. We don’t have space for very large works or anything that requires complex installation or lighting.

Are you keen?

Fill in your details below and we will get back to you.

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Anything you want to ask?

You can also mail us at create@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Crafting

Creating is about joy; the satisfaction when you stand back and look at what you have made. Something exists where it did not exist before and you have made an impact (even a small one) on the world.

I’m not talking about great artists and architects. I’m talking about ordinary people who create because they don’t want to be consumers. They want to produce, to “make their own stuff”. They know that the homebaked pie with the slightly burned edge is better than store-bought perfection. These people cook and sew, knit and crochet, write and blog, draw and illustrate, code and tinker, perform and play, not professionally, but for themselves, for their families and friends and for each other.

Making with other makers multiplies the happiness. Sharing creative projects is an opportunity to forge links towards the common goal of a better world, rejecting mass-production for the individual, the hand-crafted, the expression of human ingenuity and capacity. We want to build a better, connected world.

Better is a gathering place for productive people. Come and meet your tribe here. Bring your thread and fabric, your needles and yarn, your pens and laptops, your brushes and ink or your dancing shoes. Come and share the joy with other makers.

The makers gather at Better every third Saturday of the month for a day of crafting (from 10am to 4pm). Bring your latest project or just come and experiment with the tools and equipment we have on hand. Chat to others and find common ground. We provide basic art and craft materials, sewing machines, some tools and inspiration (full list here). Bring specialist materials with you or buy from our kiosk (list of stock here).

Drinks (tea, coffee, wine, beer) are on the house, there will be rolls and sandwiches for sale or pack a lunch if you prefer. We have a great garden to picnic in.

R150 or a Better membership gets you in. Pay by EFT, cash or card at the door.

Booking essential.

Creative flow playshops with Ira Bekker

Flow is a mental state of being fully immersed in an activity with a feeling of energized focus, involvement, and enjoyment. When you are in a state of flow, you lose awareness of all other things. The idea of flow was suggested by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi who argues that being in a state of flow is the “optimal experience” of happiness.

The creative flow playshops are about experiencing this state through drawing and painting activities. These are not art classes; rather they are an opportunity to lose yourself, to forget what is going on around you, while you become absorbed in colour, texture, pattern and the act of making. They work for artists and non-artists alike.

If you think you are not creative, these playshops may make you think again. You’ll discover that you can make beauty without any skill in drawing, or training in art. The end result is not what matters, its the process of doing, so you don’t need to judge the “art” you produce. In fact you are encouraged to use the pieces you create to create subsequent pieces. You will cut them up, repurpose and reinvent them throughout the process.

If you are an artist who needs to loosen up and escape your inner control freak, these playshops allow you to explore the unexpected in a safe space where no-one, and particularly not you, will judge the outcome. Be in the moment. Watch the colour meander across the page, going where it will. Play and experiment with new materials and techniques, just to see what happens. Make a mess, make beautiful mistakes. Remember why you love creating.

About Ira

Ira Bekker used to think that being creative is just for the lucky few until she came across the idea of creative flow and never looked back. She currently works as a textile artist using natural plant materials to print onto fabric and is passionate about leading others up the garden path towards their own creative lives.

Details

What: A series of six mornings of play in the Better art studio, starting 23rd August to 27th September.

When: Wednesday mornings, 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Where: The studio, Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold

Cost: R1700 for six sessions (R250 per session, plus R200 for materials). Members of Better pay R1280 (R180 per session, plus R200 for materials)

It is essential to book and pay by the 21st August.  Call 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg. EFT details here.

 

 

 

Note: Better is a place for grown-ups to play, you must be over 18 to join Better or attend events at Better.

Colour mixing workshop (for Hannah)

If you are just starting out with painting the range of colours available can be confusing. Which colours do you need to buy? How do you go about mixing the colours you need?

This workshop will give you an introduction to the basic colours, show you how to mix colours and give you a feel for the different shades you can get from a few basic tubes of paint.

You will construct a comprehensive colour wheel from primary colours as well as mixing darker and lighter shades of different colours. You will also experiment to see the effect of starting out with slightly different primaries.

Take home your colour maps as references for your own painting.

We’ll be working in acrylics, but the principles apply broadly. No experience or artistic ability needed!

 

Who: Anyone* who wants to learn more about painting and the use of colour, or just needs a refresher or a morning of exploration

When: Weekday morning, 9:30 to 12:30, enquire for the next dates

Cost: R150 including materials, free for members of Better (EFT details)

Please book to secure your place on 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg

 

*Better is a place for grown-ups to play. You must be 18 or older to attend events at Better.

 

Making a creative space in a practical life with Gail Schimmel

The question that I am most often asked is how I manage to make space to be a writer when I have a day-career as a lawyer and am a hands-on mom.

The answer lies in a new way of thinking about our lives – gone are the days of each person only being allowed one job or role. The new catch phrase is “portfolio living” and the idea is that each of us has several portfolios. Gone are the days when we have to choose one expertise – there is nothing to stop one person being an expert in two, often unrelated, things.

Many people experience extraordinary frustration because they want to be more creative, but they can’t figure out how to make a creative space in their practical lives. They know that they don’t want to throw up their careers and become a starving artist, so they give up on their creativity all together.

Join me for a fun morning where we explore how to make a creative space in your practical life – and what your creative space might be. Interactive, creative and lots of fun.

 

Gail Schimmel is the author of three novels – Marriage Vows (2008), Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins (2013) and The Park (2017). She has also written a children’s book (Claude & Millie, writing as Gail van Onselen) and a text book on advertising law. Gail’s short story was runner up in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories award. She runs her own consultancy as a lawyer specialising in advertising law. Gail lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two children.

 

Date: Weekday morning, 9:30 to 12:30 am, enquire for the next dates

Cost: R550, including refreshments and all materials (R450 for members of Better). EFT details

The workshop is limited to twelve participants for maximum impact

Booking essential! Contact Patience on 011 327 6098 or patience@better.joburg.

Play with shape and colour, make your own Mondrian

If you would like to play with colour and paint, but you don’t know where to start, join us for a fun morning of bright colours and simple shapes as we explore the art of Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter who lived from 1872 to 1944.

Mondrian is one of the most accessible “famous” painters. He simplified images into lines, shapes and colours.

The video below shows his transition from painting traditional landscapes of natural subjects toward cityscapes.

Many of his images are very familiar as the basic ideas have been used to decorate textiles and other products.

This is not an art lecture. It’s more fun than that. We will view some videos of his works (some serious, some frivolous) and then we will play with colours and shapes using paint, card, fabric and even food.

You will get to make your own Mondrian painting, collage, clothing and …. anything else you can imagine! No experience necessary.

Come and play!

 

When: Weekday morning, 9:30 – 12:30, enquire for the next dates

Where: Better, of course!

Cost: R250 each, all materials and refreshments included (FREE for members of Better)

Places limited to 12 people

 

The “very easy facebook for small businesses” workshop

If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur, freelancer, crafter, artist or author struggling to work out how this whole Facebook for business thing works, Better are hosting an informal workshop that is perfect for you, run by Content Writer and Social Media Manager, Tracey Walker.

Learn how to set up and effectively manage a business Facebook Page that nurtures your business or product with content that builds a loyal community of clients and customers. With 1.86 billion active monthly Facebook users, the potential to find people who need just what you are offering is endless, just as long as you can get them to listen to you.

As marketing expert Seth Godin remarked “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell”. And Facebook is where everyone is talking and more importantly, listening.

So come along to Better for a morning on Thursday 21st September from 9:30 until 12:30. You’ll get coffee, tea and a workbook with all the information we discuss as well as a monthly content template to help you get started. (Free stuff, yes!) The workshop costs R550 and members of Better pay R450.

Space is limited to 10 people, so please book your place now. E-mail Tracey at walkertracey0@gmail.com or call her at 083 424 7749 for information. Contact Candy on create@better.joburg or 011 327 6098 to book.

Art @ Better

Every Wednesday morning artists and aspirant artists get together to draw, paint and explore at Better.

Bring what you are working on or make use of suggestions provided. Experiment with new tools and materials. Follow lesson plans or do your own thing. Get inspired by what others are working on.

Check out these reasons to Make Art at Better.

Every Wednesday 9:30 to 12:30 in the studio at Better

Free for members of Better or R100 for access, materials and refreshments (if you haven’t been before, your first visit to Better is free)

 

Make art at Better

Let’s face it, you can draw anywhere. Just pick up your sketch book and a pencil. You can draw at home, in a public space, I even draw at work during meetings (great to have captive models across the table). So why would you come to Better to draw?

I can think of nine reasons:

1. To use equipment that you don’t have at home

We see Better as being a place where more expensive tools can be shared and made affordable. So, for example, we have light box and a projector. We have a list on the wall where you can add what you would like to see at Better. We’ll do our best to add to the range of equipment over time.

2. To try out new materials and media without having to buy them

Better supplies a range of materials for drawing and painting that, as a member, you can use for free. Never tried pastels? Now’s your chance. Want to know what different papers are like to work on? Come and experiment. We even have an electric eraser! If you haven’t tried that out, you should. Check out this YouTube video to see what it does.

3. For the inspiration of new environments, people and conversations

When you work alone, without human interaction or even just the stimulus of new environments, you can get stale. Getting out and connecting with others can inspire you. Have new conversations, with different people. See what others are doing and steal their ideas.

4. For ideas about exercises to try (like a teacher, but less intrusive)

We curate information that’s useful for artists. We have a great collection of books that you can refer to, we are collecting information about exercises you can try and we are collating YouTube playlists of helpful videos. As a member of Better you get access to this information. So whatever medium you work in, there will be things for you to try when you’re not sure what to do next.

5. Interesting subjects: pictures, still life compositions, live models

Each week we compose a new still life to an interesting theme. (Our last one was on a gardening theme.) Come along and work on it whenever you like. We plan to hire models for life drawing, as soon as we have enough interest. We also bring flowers, objects, pictures for inspiration. This is not a class, just set yourself up and draw or paint.

6. The freedom to work on what you are interested in (not like attending a class)

We want to offer a mix of classes, and a work space to get on with your current projects, as you please. If you need structure, join a class. If you are a more experienced or independent artist, come along and work to your own pace and in your own direction.

7. It’s a non-judgemental environment where play and experiment are encouraged

We understand that doing art can be scary. It can be especially scary if you have been subjected to critique in the past. Better is a friendly space. We have no pretensions about what is good art or bad. As long as you are having fun creating, you are welcome and you will find a supportive space. Professionals and amateurs are all welcome.

8. It’s a nice space

The studio at Better is a large open space that is cheerful and comfortable. Unless you are lucky enough to have your own studio you’ll probably find it more comfortable than working at home.

9. The refreshments are free

Your Better membership includes free tea and coffee, rusks and fruit. Help yourself at any time. Lunch can be ordered in, or eat at a local restaurant.

 

Better is a place for working, sharing and socialising. We want to build a community of people who use the place regularly and get to know each other. We’d like you to become a member of Better and become part of this community.

Maybe your art is difficult to do at Better; maybe you are into installations or you are working on 10 meter high sculptures. In that case, please come and visit and bring the pictures to share.

Get in touch!

Coral reefs and tangled banks

Steven Johnson argues that coral reefs and the tangled banks of rivers are the environments that best support innovation. These complex, messy environments that support a variety of intertwined life forms, have unique properties that lead to a rich, fertile and flourishing state. Rich, fertile and flourishing is what we are aiming for at Better. In his book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation, (also subtitled The Natural History of Innovation in other editions) Steven Johnson delves into the history of innovation to identify seven themes which reflect on the conditions that support creativity. Some of these themes inform our vision for Better as a creative space.

Part of the vision for Better is that it is a place where people can share ideas, projects, knowledge and skills. We want it to be a place where you will be able to bump into people who share your interests and challenges. Andrew talks about it being like a bar for creative pursuits. You go there when you want to meet people and you can usually be sure that there will be someone there.

Johnson talks about a liquid network, one that is dense and viscous enough that ideas can move and collide. Solids prevent movement, while in gasses the particles are so far apart as to make collisions unlikely. We want to be sure that a range of people come to Better – not the same people all the time (which would be like a solid). We envisage having a member base large enough so that you meet different people on different days. We also envisage events that bring non-members into Better to provide fresh ideas. We want to make sure that there are enough people there on any one day for you to find someone interesting to share a coffee with, and we plan on using themed afternoons and evenings to make sure that you bump into the people who share your specific creative domain.

Another of Johnson’s themes is that of the slow hunch: ideas emerge slowly, they take time to mature and grow in response to information and impressions that are gradually added to. This idea reflects the growing concern to rediscover slow scholarship, allowing for deep ideas in academia to emerge. Slow scholarship, the movement’s slog (slow blog) explains, “is carefully prepared, with fresh ideas, local when possible, and is best enjoyed leisurely, on one’s own or as part of a dialogue around a table with friends, family and colleagues”. By being a physical space for actual warm humans, Better provides those local ingredients as well as the tables and the company. In particular Johnson notes that “pressures, distractions, accountability and supervision all work against ideas”. Better is a place where those pressures can be left behind, where you can contemplate quietly, and let your best ideas emerge, slowly.

Another theme in the history of innovation is that error plays an important role. “Innovative environments thrive on useful mistakes” says Johnson. So one of our concerns for Better is that it needs to be a messy space for trial and error, for experiment. One of the challenges of creative work is the ever-present fear that what you have made is not good enough. Particularly when it comes to the visual arts, so many people are paralysed by the fear of their stumbling efforts being seen and criticised. Better is a playful, permissive space, not only for the accomplished. We want people to try, to do things they have never done before, to produce misshapen mistakes in the process of learning and having fun. We welcome and celebrate things that go wrong or don’t work. We hope to see fabulous flops.

And finally, Johnson makes the point that innovation requires platforms, places where innovation can take place, where the habitat needed for innovation is built by what he calls ecosystem engineers. Better invites you to be an ecosystem engineer, and help to build a coral reef or a tangled river bank, to shape Better and make it into the kind of space that supports your creative process.